A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Blank Check is a 1994 Disney movie about an 11-year-old boy who feels ignored by family and friends and dreams of having his own money and house. The kid is already a bit of an operator as the action begins and when a million dollars of stolen cash falls into his hands. He dodges the criminals trying to get the money back at the same time as spending big bucks and lying about all of it to his family. Brothers tease and punch each other. Criminals threaten people and stake out parks looking for the kid who stole their money. Expect to hear the word "butt." Mom and Dad joke about lovemaking prowess in front of their 11-year-old son. A woman kisses an 11-year-old boy on the mouth. A kid says a man will be home late from a first date, suggesting the couple will have sex.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Preston (Brian Bonsall) is 11, the youngest of three sons in BLANK CHECK. He always seems to get the short end of the stick in a solidly upper-middle class household where Mom and especially Dad (James Rebhorn) value money and entrepreneurial drive more than the joy of being a kid. The more devalued Preston feels, the more he dreams of having his own money, his own home, and a life apart from his family. When an escaped convict crushes Preston's bike with his car and hands him a signed blank check for the damages, Preston fills in "one million dollars" and goes to the bank. The banker (Michael Lerner) has been pressed to launder that exact amount by the convict, so he readily hands over the cash. From then on, the banker, convict, and hired hand look for the kid at swimming pools and parks, driving recklessly and acting stupid. In less than a week, Preston spends the money on his own house, toys, a chauffeur, and impressing Shay (Karen Duffy), a grown woman he thinks works at the bank but is actually an FBI agent on a stakeout. Preston's clueless parents accept all of this based on the explanation that he is working for Mr. Macintosh, a mysterious employer he's invented. The bad guys get caught, Preston learns money isn't that important, his dad learns he's been too hard on the boy, and Shay suggests the kid call her in ten years for a more serious relationship.
Is it any good?
This movie has some well-acted moments but the plot is far more implausible than even the disbelief-suspending movies it clearly intends to mimic, Big and Home Alone. Brian Bonsall, who played Michael J. Fox's younger brother in Family Ties, does well enough as Preston, but the script makes him difficult to like and his situation difficult to accept. The 13-year-old in Big looks like a 30-year-old, so it's easy to understand why the 30-year-old woman in that movie is interested in him. But Preston is, and looks, very much 11. His date with 30-something Shay strains believability and, worse yet, is downright cringe-inducing. But Preston wants more than an older girlfriend. At the top of his wish list is to pay someone to knock off his truly unpleasant older brothers. Next, he wants to buy his own home because he understandably hates his unkind and oblivious parents. Since most unhappy 11-year-olds think of running away before hiring a killer and investing in real estate, the plot strains to bursting, but clearly Preston truly hates his family. At one point he runs off to a meeting and says to them, "Later, toads." The question is: What kind of kid is this and do we want to root for someone so money-obsessed and bossy? By the time Blank Check starts to channel Home Alone, when Preston gets busy outsmarting the bad guys who are ineptly chasing him, the movie has wound down into a big yawn.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Preston feels unhappy at home in Blank Check. Do you think it's fair that his father belittles him because he isn't making money?
Do you think it's a good idea for parents to emphasize money above other values when raising children? What would the benefits be? What would the drawbacks be?
What would you do if you found a million dollars? What would be the consequences of spending money that isn't yours?
- In theaters: February 11, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: March 4, 2003
- Cast: Brian Bonsall, Miguel Ferrer, Karen Duffy, Michael Lerner
- Director: Rupert Wainwright
- Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for language, and for some threatening situations
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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